Scleral Lenses for Astigmatism
Scleral lenses are a great nonsurgical solution that provides exceptional vision correction in patients with astigmatism, whether by birth, due to post-refractive surgery, or other corneal procedures. Astigmatism is a refractive error caused by irregular corneal curvature, resulting in blurred and distorted vision. Scleral lenses allow astigmatic patients to experience improved visual acuity and comfort while keeping eyes hydrated all day.
If you have been told that your astigmatism is too severe to wear contacts, ask Dr. Colleen Mitchell about scleral contact lenses. At the Blacksburg Eye Associates in Blacksburg, we work hard to give each patient a superior contact lens fit and know that these lenses can truly make a difference in our patients’ lives.
What is Astigmatism
Astigmatism is a common type of refractive error caused by an irregularly shaped cornea. The abnormal cornea causes light to enter unequally onto the retina, which results in blurred or distorted vision, eye strain, headaches, squinting and eye irritation. People are either born with this condition or can develop it later in life.
This condition typically occurs with myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) and can be easily diagnosed using a simple eye exam.
Astigmatism falls into three categories:
- Myopic (nearsighted) astigmatism: For the myopic, light rays focus in front of the retina, leading objects in the distance to appear blurred. Myopic people who have astigmatism experience further blurring and vision distortion due to the refractive error caused by mismatched curvatures of the cornea or lens.
- Hyperopic (farsighted) astigmatism: For the farsighted, light focuses beyond the retina. Individuals with hyperopia and astigmatism experience blurred and distorted vision and have difficulty focusing on objects that are up close.
- Mixed astigmatism: In people with mixed astigmatism, one curvature of the cornea or lens focuses light to the front of the retina while the other focuses light to the back of the retina.
Astigmatism falls into the regular or irregular camp:
Most cases of astigmatism are regular, meaning that the front surface of the eye is oval-shaped. Irregular astigmatism is often caused by scarring of the cornea, keratoconus or from certain types of eye surgeries.
Can People With Astigmatism Wear Contact Lenses?
In cases of moderate to severe astigmatism, sometimes the distortion is too severe to be compensated for properly by soft contact lenses, which simply conform to the irregular shape of the cornea. Scleral lenses, on the other hand, sit on the sclera – not the cornea. They are rigid and maintain their shape regardless of the corneal dimensions. This allows the eye to properly focus light and thus ensures the sharp vision and exceptional comfort. The liquid reservoir that gets trapped underneath the scleral lens masks corneal astigmatism and ensures a stable fit.
What are Scleral Lenses?
Scleral lenses get their name from the way they fit on the eye. The sclera is the white part of the eye, and these lenses rest on the sclera while the lens itself vaults over the cornea.
Scleral lenses have become an important therapeutic strategy in the visual rehabilitation of patients with irregular corneas, such as astigmatism. The liquid reservoir between the lens and the cornea neutralizes astigmatism and provides a continuous moist environment that protects the cornea from exposure to air and friction from blinking.
Scleral lenses offer better comfort, breathability and improved visual acuity due to their rigid optical surface and a shape designed specifically for each patient’s eye. We have found that for our patients with astigmatism, scleral lenses have proven to be the best solution in providing sharp and comfortable vision all day long.
Are Scleral Lenses for Astigmatism Expensive?
Scleral lenses are custom-fit to each eye, and though the fees for fitting scleral and the cost of the lenses are higher than traditional lenses, their life span and benefits offset the costs.
Coverage rates and restrictions vary among providers, and if considered a medical necessity, many insurance companies will cover the cost of scleral lenses. That said, every country and state has its own restrictions and regulations. Consult with our eye care team at the Blacksburg Eye Associates to discuss your specific payment options and cost of scleral lenses.
Specialized optometrists, such as Dr. Colleen Mitchell, are trained in fitting scleral lenses for excellent, effective vision correction, and help patients with astigmatism and other corneal irregularities enjoy great vision and comfort with specialty lenses.Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from all over Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburgand New River Valley, Virginia.
“ I went to the Blacksburg Eye Associates for my astigmatism, and I’m so grateful to the staff and doctors for their thorough care! They meticulously fitted me for scleral lenses, and now I can not only see well, but I tend to forget I’m wearing lenses. They’re so very comfortable! “